Nature’s beauty has been inspiring artists for thousands of years, so it’s not surprising that much of the artwork popping up in unconventional spaces in Santa Barbara is nature-themed. The fact that we live in one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse regions of the world gives area artists extra inspiration. And there’s no shortage of subject matter; from the vast expanse of sea to the smallest detail of a leaf, there’s plenty of nature to go around for everyone.
There are very few businesses in Santa Barbara that are dedicated to the preservation of the natural world more than the Lotus Boutique. The tiny space boasts a tremendous selection of organic, sustainable, and green items for the home, health, and self, including clothing and jewelry. Among these items you’ll also find paintings by regional artist Jeff Campbell, a man who is seemingly obsessed with capturing the perfect wave on canvas. Lotus Boutique owner and jewelry designer Erica Forbes rotates works by Campbell, whose calming landscapes in rich tones of orange, gray, and brown feature variations of peeling, picture-perfect waves.
Across town, tucked away in the corridor of Geissinger Winery’s tasting rooms at East Beach, artist Jill Ashley Hummel is similarly single-minded in her pursuit of the ideal portrait of nature. Her canvases of giant, oversized floral arrangements adorn the tasting room’s walls in bursts of vibrant color. There is a natural sense of movement and energy in her abstracted, overlaid compositions. Her “Solar Power,” evokes a veritable Garden of Eden with flora and fauna competing for space on the canvas.
On the other end of the scale, Kristen Spalding’s pint-sized works at Reds Cafe reveal nature in its quietest moments. Her intimate drawings of leaves and other forest-floor detritus are quietly embedded in soft, pastel palettes. Their faint outlines peeking through the waxy, textured surface remind us of the ephemeral state of the natural world.
Among the many new businesses taking up shop in renovated homes, loop & leaf, a yarn shop and tea store fusion, recently caught my eye. The soothing, homey space boasts a surprising variety of yarns and knitting goods, ample space for trying out new patterns, and sessions with owner Celeste Varner, who will help any level of knitter with her most perplexing questions.